07 December 2006
BOO!!! which Holy Scripture terrifies you the most?
a rant & snort from jameskpolka, a sentient from Vleeptron. to the sentients in Minnesota.
On 4 January 2007, for what's certainly the first time in American history, a newly-elected member of Congress will swear his oath on the Koran.
At least two National Media Assholes have gone ripshit ballistic about this.
Below the Vleeptron Rant, read the nice Opinion column from the Minnesota Daily News which triggered it.
comment by jameskpolka:
Traditionally American presidents choose their own Bible to take the inaugural oath. Joe Lieberman has recently been a Jewish near-miss, but if he'd hit the bullseye, on which Bible would he have taken the oath?
To most Americans, "The Bible" means the Old and the New Testament, but to a Jew, The Bible means only the Old Testament (which Jews don't call "The Old Testament," because that implies that God made a subsequent "New Testament" or Covenant with humankind).
To the politically addled and the bigotted, what sort of national outrage will the first presidential oath on the Tanakh be?
I live in Massachusetts, far from and nearly deaf and blind to the local political details of Minneapolis. But after Keith Ellison's victory, I watched a MacNeil/Lehrer segment about the local circumstances surrounding his win.
His most enthusiastic supporters and his most vigorous defenders against Islamophobia seem to have been Jewish politicians in the Twin Cities and in the statehouse. Minnesota is a notoriously and blessedly enlightened political culture, and these interviewed Jews -- they looked exactly like my cousins and aunts and uncles -- were scrupulously concerned only with Ellison's character, competence and political achievements.
Minnesota's Jewish voters have been asked to follow nasty religious red herrings to the ballot box before. They rejected those old traps of religious prejudice, and they rejected the new ones aimed against Ellison.
I've read big chunks of N.J. Dawood's Penguin translation of the Koran. Meaning utterly no disrespect, but its contents closely resemble the contents of my Tanakh and the contents of my Christian neighbors' New Testament. In all three scriptures, a reader stuck in Today is asked to gaze back upon ancient miracles, ancient God-man intimate conversations and commands, glimpses of Paradise and Hell, bestial crimes and atrocities committed by human beings, life everlasting -- and unhappy volumes of violent, sanctified curses and insults aimed at neighboring tribes and nations and their different religious beliefs.
Koran, Tanakh, New Testament -- it's tough for anyone who passed high school physics or biology to regard either scripture as fact or as the true revealed word of God. Since Newton and the Enlightenment, civilization has pretty much demanded all its intellectual leaders to take these ancient chronicles with a grain (or eight) of salt. Since Darwin, Russell and Mendel, it's become even tougher to embrace the literal truth of these literarily wondrous chronicles.
Where these scriptures remain great and important in 2006, where we are still wise to teach them to our children, are their identical and parallel demands that all who claim to follow these words live up to their radiant insights of morals, ethics, justice, honesty and brotherhood.
At this grotesque and shameful Muslim-bashing moment in America, I am deeply pleased that Minnesota's enlightened Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and atheist voters chose to send a qualified Muslim to Congress, and it will fill my American heart with pride and warmth to watch Ellison take his oath on the Koran.
The Minnesota Daily
(Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota USA)
Wednesday 6 December 2006
Is our congressman-elect from the 5th District the new Borat, exposing hatred and bigotry in America?
by Adri Mehra
Less than a month after being elected the first Muslim American ever to serve in the U.S. Congress, the Man with the Quran is already burning the piñata at the white kids' birthday party.
U.S. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told the press shortly after his election that he would be placing his hand upon Islam's holiest book, instead of the Bible, while he takes the oath of office Jan. 4.
Naturally, this has stoked the flames of resentment from the anti-Islam, anti-Ellison and frankly anti-American component of the religious Reichstag that controls conservative debate on talk radio.
Just three weeks after syndicated talking head Glenn Beck asked Ellison on CNN Headline News to prove he wasn't working with "our enemies" (Muslims, apparently), everyone's favorite Jew-for-Jesus commentator Dennis Prager is saying Ellison's Quran plan "undermines America" and "America should not give a hoot -- America is interested in only one book - the Bible -- If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."
Prager goes on to compare Ellison's choice of the Quran to a hypothetical racist picking Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" for their oath-taking ceremony and that "Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones."
That sort of mind-spew of cultural hatred isn't worth discussing here if I can't devote the rest of the column to it.
But isn't the oath of office about upholding the Constitution, and not the Bible? Why swear on any book when we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Are not those the primary sources of our democratic value system?
And isn't this whole messy burrito, as Ellison himself has stated, "what freedom of religion is all about?"
Instead, the religious right has turned this into a litmus test of Ellison's patriotism or, worse, his moral fiber, as if being of a different faith were a basis upon which to question it.
But really, this reactionary portion of the debate is child's play at best, poisonous race-baiting at its worst.
But to paraphrase pop music bard Billy Joel, Keith didn't start this "fire" - it was always burning, since the world's been turning.
Which is to say that Ellison is neither the first nor last to be persona non grata in the cranky old boys' club of American politics.
Like Paul Wellstone 15 years before him, Ellison will by turns be labeled a funky, well-needed firebrand and the oratorial equivalent of a large-mouthed bass.
But, after 12 long years of a sleepy center-right DFL and the brusque twilight of Wellstone-style prairie populism, isn't a loud progressive voice exactly what this democracy is historically due for, whether or not you sympathize with its content?
As Billy Joel advised us on "Angry Young Man" from his 1976 album "Turnstiles":
"Give a moment or two to the angry young man / with his working class ties and his radical plans / He's been stabbed in the back, he's been misunderstood, but it's a comfort to know his intentions are good."
It's been a comfort getting to know you, Mr. Ellison. Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound from you -- funny, but it's still rock 'n' roll to me.
Adri Mehra welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted on 2006-12-06 at 11:31:00
Morisano from Santa Barbara, CA writes:
It is so refreshing to find a sensible voice out there, a voice that should be recognized as American, rather than what these cowering conservatives are projecting. The scariest part is that this debate, this questioning of Keith Ellison's patriotism and morality is all actually happening. This isn't a fictional situation - these fatheads do not need a Borat to expose their religious and ethnic bigotry. They're quite capable and confident doing it themselves.
It is one thing for these neo-cons to have qualms about the election of Mr. Ellison, but what makes matters worse is that these fatheads are on the airwaves, broadcasting their ignorance. If it is true that "America is interested in only one book - the Bible," as Mr. Prager claims, then it is our country, our culture, our "faith" that breeds the extremists. We now live in a country where if you are a devout Muslim, and desire to pray, you will be accosted by the FBI and left stranded by US Airways! It's neo-McCarthyism. I admire your suggestion that elected officials scrap the biblical oath and rather swear to uphold the Bill of Rights and the Constitution - documents which stand for freedoms that many, especially the "anti-American component of the religious Reichstag" (love that) are forgetting!
PS - love the Billy Joel quotations.
Morisano's Rating: 5